Dance/Cheer Host Best Invitational in the State

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CHSD117: Dance & Cheer Programs

On January 7th, 2023, D117 hosted the inaugural All of the Lights Competitive Cheerleading and Competitive Dance Invitational at the The McKay Center, District 117’s newly constructed, combined use fieldhouse and athletic facility. The event is the largest combined high school cheer and dance invitational in Illinois, and welcomed over 100 high school cheer and dance teams from across the State. Several teams traveled nearly 6 hours to attend what is being hailed as “the premier cheer and dance invitational in Illinois.” The draw and uniqueness of this event was rooted in the logistics and venue: This is the ONLY “full production” invitational in the state for high school cheer and dance teams to attend. Illinois high school cheer and dance teams compete in high school gymnasiums throughout their regular season. The IHSA State Finals is the only other high school cheer and dance event in the state to utilize a Marley dance floor and full stage lighting production for both cheer and dance. 

The naming of the event, All of the Lights, was an easy decision given what this competition offered. Tim Babin, Co-Head Coach of the ACHS Cheer Program, and Tournament Director for the competition, developed the concept for the full production event with the intent to provide a one of a kind opportunity for any competitive high school cheer or dance team in Illinois. “Freshman and JV level teams are not afforded the opportunity to compete at the IHSA State Finals, and this is an opportunity for them to experience that state finals feel. For varsity teams, many will qualify for IHSA State, and this event offers an environment with the professional stage, under all of the lights, to prepare them for that state finals environment.” 

Although this was the first ever cheer or dance invitational competition hosted by D117, the event was highly successful by all accounts. IHSA Assistant Executive Director Tracie Henry attended the event and later tweeted “Wow! Congratulations D117 on a first-class dance and cheer invitational!” The Illinois High School Cheer Coaches Facebook page was flooded with comments after the event noting the beautiful facilities, the kindness and hospitality of the staff and volunteers, and how smoothly the event operated.